Are the amide bonds in N -acyl imidazoles twisted? A combined solid-state 17O NMR, crystallographic, and computational study

Xianqi Kong, Aaron Tang, Ruiyao Wang, Eric Ye, Victor Terskikh, Gang Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

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8 Citations (Scopus)


We report synthesis of 17O-labeling and solid-state 17O NMR measurements of three N-acyl imidazoles of the type R-C(17O)-Im: R = p-methoxycinnamoyl (MCA-Im), R = 4-(dimethylamino)benzoyl (DAB-Im), and R = 2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyl (TMB-Im). Solid-state 17O NMR experiments allowed us to determine for the first time the 17O quadrupole coupling and chemical shift tensors in this class of organic compounds. We also determined the crystal structures of these compounds using single-crystal X-ray diffraction. The crystal structures show that, while the C(O)-N amide bond in DAB-Im exhibits a small twist, those in MCA-Im and TMB-Im are essentially planar. We found that, in these N-acyl imidazoles, the 17O quadrupole coupling and chemical shift tensors depend critically on the torsion angle between the conjugated acyl group and the C(O)-N amide plane. The computational results from a plane-wave DFT approach, which takes into consideration the entire crystal lattice, are in excellent agreement with the experimental solid-state 17O NMR results. Quantum chemical computations also show that the dependence of 17O NMR parameters on the Ar-C(O) bond rotation is very similar to that previously observed for the C(O)-N bond rotation in twisted amides. We conclude that one should be cautious in linking the observed NMR chemical shifts only to the twist of the C(O)-N amide bond.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-458
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Chemistry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Acyl
  • Crystal structure
  • Imidazole
  • O NMR
  • Plane-wave DFT
  • Solid state
  • Torsion angle

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